Tech companies and large manufacturers continue to expand operations in the Lowcountry.
Sean McCarthy, our May STEM Educator of the Month, wants to make sure they have skilled employees for years to come.
“There's a huge need,” McCarthy says. “If you talk to different industries, they'll say there's not enough good employees or potential employees to fill what's needed in our area.”
McCarthy teaches mechatronics at Philip Simmons High School. It's a branch of engineering which focuses on both electrical and mechanical systems.
Nucor steel sponsors the mechatronics class, and McCarthy uses it to get his students real world experience, in and out of the classroom.
“We did a tour of Volvo, and then some of the kids came back and said they really want to go to Clemson, because they have automotive engineering now,” McCarthy said. “So they were pretty excited. It showed them something they hadn't seen and maybe they're going to go for four years, but they're still going to draw on their experiences from this class.
But McCarthy goes above and beyond simply teaching kids the ins and outs of mechanics and engineering. He also teaches them soft skills.
“Companies are willing to bring you on if you have soft skills,” McCarthy says. “If you can show up to work on time, have a good work ethic and so forth. They can train you. Each industry has their specifics so you just have to be able to show that you can learn and that you're willing to work.”
The students get it, too. In fact, a freshman in his class nominated him to be the Stem Educator of the Month.
“He actually presents the reality of how it's going to turn out when I get older and go into the workforce,” said Hunter Ramey, a freshman at Philip Simmons High. “He gave me the perspective of what I need to do to be successful.”